- On December 13, 2016
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“The spiritual task we are given is a simple one: to attend to that inner spark of radiance, to hold vigil over it until we realize it to be our self, and to dig up and cast off all argument we have with its love.” – Adyashanti
This is one of my favorite quotes by Adya. In a poetic way, he is describing three stages of the spiritual journey. In the first, we are invited to pay attention to an inner spark of radiance. In the second, we recognize it as our self. And in the final stage, we surrender to its love. Let’s look at each of these stages, knowing that life never unfolds in a linear fashion.
To attend to our inner spark means to orient our attention to Being rather than to our outer experiences. When this happens, our search for happiness begins to turn away from conventional sources that we hope will make us feel safe and loved towards awareness itself. Who are we really? What is the nature of awareness? What is the true source of happiness? The outer search turns inwards. As this happens, we may begin to sense a quiet radiance in our core. It is often felt in the heart area as a kind of light or lightness. We feel a sacred calling – a growing longing to come home. In fact, the sacred is calling us home and we are responding. This call and response is a movement of grace.
This spark is the light of our inner knowing. We are born with it in our core and it always remains, like an ember glowing in the fireplace. As children, we unknowingly shine with this sense of being but we almost always lose touch with it as we navigate our way through our families, educational system, and life in general. As we inevitably develop a story about ourselves and become attached to it, our sense of Being recedes into the background. The veils of conditioning cover this bright ember but never extinguish it. At some point as adults we are drawn back to consciously acknowledge this essential radiance. The first stage of our journey is this orientation to our essential nature.
In the second stage we hold vigil over this spark until we know it as our self. Once we are oriented to Being, we are repeatedly drawn to understand it better and to experience it more intimately, still perhaps as a state of awareness that apparently comes and goes. In time, we begin to have more frequent glimpses of our true nature – tastes of infinity. Still, the locus of identity remains as a separate-inside-self despite these visitations and intuitions of non-separateness. During this phase, we may feel like a vacationer driving from the Bay Area to Lake Tahoe to enjoy the beauty and then again returning to our familiar home.
At some point there is a shift, either dramatically like a waterfall tumbling over a cliff or more quietly like a broad river reaching the ocean. Our locus of identity shifts to Being. We clearly recognize that we are that which we have been tending for so long. This brings a great sense of inner freedom. We know without doubt who we really are, despite whatever conditioning arises.
In the final stage of the spiritual journey, we transpose this knowing to our daily life, ever more deeply embodying this understanding that increasingly takes on the flavor of unconditional love. Everything in our experience, whether so-called inner or outer, is waiting to be touched by this loving understanding. We gradually release (“dig up and cast off”) deeply embedded mental, emotional and instinctual arguments with reality as they resolve themselves in this radiance. This is an ever deepening, open-ended unfolding into the Heart of life.
– John Prendergast